The way we test for cervical cancer has changed, the new method for cervical screening is now testing for the human papillomavirus (HPV), this is a better first screening test.
You have options for how you have your screening sample taken:
- A vaginal swab. This method of testing is more sensitive to the detection of the high-risk HPV and less invasive. You can either self-test during your appointment, or your doctor or nurse can help.
- A cervical sample (previously known as a smear test), taken by a health professional.
Appointment times are 30 minutes long and can be with your GP or nurse.
All people who have cervical smears are part of The National Cervical Screening Programme, unless they specifically state that they do not want to be. We recommend that all persons stay within the programme due to the following benefits:
- Availability of records to you, your clinical team and the laboratory reading your tests
- Automatic reminder letters when you are overdue for having a cervical screen
- Checks to ensure the right follow-up after an abnormal test result
- Planning for the needs of different ethnic groups
The programme is checked regularly to see that it is working well and it is measured against National Quality Standards to help all people with a cervix get the best possible screening and treatment.
Cervical screening is currently free if you meet one of the following criteria:
- this is your first cervical screen
- are Māori / Pasifika
- are 30 years and over and have not had a test in the last five years
- hold a Community Services Card
For further information about the screening programme and the testing available, please visit Time To Screen.